16 December 2007

Eight business technology trends to watch

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Eight business technology trends
The McKinsey Quarterly has published an article on eight technology-enabled trends that will help shape businesses and the economy in coming years.

The authors James M. Manyika, Roger P. Roberts, and Kara L. Sprague have grouped the eight trends – which each come with their own further reading suggestions – within three broad areas of business activity: managing relationships, managing capital and assets, and leveraging information in new ways. Obviously, the first area is most relevant for this blog. It covers four trends:

1. Distributing co-creation
Today, in the high-technology, consumer product, and automotive sectors, among others, companies routinely involve customers, suppliers, small specialist businesses, and independent contractors in the creation of new products. Outsiders offer insights that help shape product development, but companies typically control the innovation process. Technology now allows companies to delegate substantial control to outsiders—co-creation—in essence by outsourcing innovation to business partners that work together in networks.

2. Using consumers as innovators
As the Internet has evolved—an evolution prompted in part by new Web 2.0 technologies—it has become a more widespread platform for interaction, communication, and activism. Consumers increasingly want to engage online with one another and with organizations of all kinds. Companies can tap this new mood of customer engagement for their economic benefit. […]
Companies that involve customers in design, testing, marketing (such as viral marketing), and the after-sales process get better insights into customer needs and behavior and may be able to cut the cost of acquiring customers, engender greater loyalty, and speed up development cycles.

3. Tapping into a world of talent
As more and more sophisticated work takes place interactively online and new collaboration and communications tools emerge, companies can outsource increasingly specialized aspects of their work and still maintain organizational coherence. Much as technology permits them to decentralize innovation through networks or customers, it also allows them to parcel out more work to specialists, free agents, and talent networks.

4. Extracting more value from interactions
Technology tools that promote tacit interactions, such as wikis, virtual team environments, and videoconferencing, may become no less ubiquitous than computers are now. As companies learn to use these tools, they will develop managerial innovations—smarter and faster ways for individuals and teams to create value through interactions—that will be difficult for their rivals to replicate.

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